Analysis of Collaboration in Research Design

Cite as:

Okune, Angela and Adams, James. 2018. "Analysis of Collaboration in Research Design." In PhD Orals Document: Querying Analyses of Collaboration, created by Angela Okune and James Adams. PhD Orals Document. UC Irvine Anthropology. October.

Angela Okune's Orals Documents in Brief

This essay is part of three orals documents submitted by University of California, Irvine Anthropology doctoral student Angela Okune i n partial...Read more

Bibliography for Annotated Set - OKUNE

Ordered by research life cycle phase:

Research Design

Holmes, Douglas R., and George E. Marcus. 2008. “Collaboration Today and the Re-Imagination of the Classic Scene of Fieldwork...Read more


This section foregrounds annotations based on our analytic structure specifically looking at collaboration in research design.

Analysts in the annotated set were largely interested in the relationships involved in developing a research inquiry. Some noted that their own “participation as users” allowed them to understand “local protocols” to apply and use in their project. In this example, the assumption that there will be a problem that can be solved with a designed (tech) solution did not appear to be shaken by the engagement with users. Collaboration was used synonymously with communication; perhaps indicative of the “collaborative” milieu described by Holmes and Marcus (2008). Halabi et al. (2013) use the term "collaboration" as a way to tackle critiques of ICTD and ICT design problems. Their turn to "collaboration" echoes Jentsch and Pillay (2003) as a way to address broader critiques of development.

Halabi et al. (2013) held that a shared value system was key to strong collaboration while Hall et al. (2008) believed shared terms were necessary for better collaboration. Holmes and Marcus (2008) held that operating under the methodological premise of deferral to “para-ethnographic” communities that have a critical consciousness allows for generative different collaborative confirgurations of ethnography. Collaboration at the research design phase largely focused on describing the crossing boundaries of disciplines and epistemologies.

Local and foreign were binary categories used to describe epistemological communities. Elite experts were used to describe ideal collaborators in a reconstituted anthropology that unsettles roles. Rather than the term “elite” as ideal collaborative partners, I wonder if Holmes and Marcus (2008)’s notion of “found reflexive subjects” as intellectual partners could instead open up generative ways of thinking about intersectional subjects without relegating productive intellectual partnerships to a particular class.

Analysts thinking about collaboration at the research design stage were worried about the design of technologies; the future of anthropology and ethnography; the replication of global North and global South inequalities in collaboration; and training the next group of interdisciplinary scholars using “valid” and “reliable” metrics for the sustainability of “team science.Jentsch and Pilley (2003) find that collaboration at the research design stage is crucial for the entire research process since it sets in place the assumptions/roles/guidelines for the entire project including even who will have primary authorship rights. The analysts underlying assumption appears to be that with the right guidelines and tools in place then collaboration can be done better. This is clear based on the overall tone where they identify various "best practices" and tips and tools to improve more "reciprocal benefits" of collaboration.

Dubious practices with regards to intellectual “ownership” and attribution in collaborations are pointed to by Jentsch and Pilley (2003) but otherwise data is not a focus of analysis. Taking screenshots of conversations on Facebook was noted as a way to capture data on online converations. Technologies mentioned that facilitated collaboration included social media, wiki pages, email communications and a regular email newsletter.

This essay is part of a broader orals document querying collaborative formations. Works were categorized under one part of the “research life cycle” as a heuristic. Sub-essays within the orals doc can be accessed directly through the following links: Research Design (Artifacts | Analysis); Data Gathering and Production (Artifacts | Analysis); Data Analysis (Artifacts | Analysis); Artifact Production (Artifacts | Analysis); Dissemination (Artifacts | Analysis); Political Practice (Artifacts | Analysis).

A sampling of annotations

A few of the notable annotations are included below for quick review. Each can be clicked to view it fully. A full list of all annotations submitted for works included under this phase of the research life cycle can be found here.